Broncos v Sea Eagles: Late changes for Broncos; Manly 1-17
Wayne Bennett's Broncos are timing their run impressively ahead of another Telstra Premiership finals series, hammering the Rabbitohs (home) and Roosters (away) in recent weeks to firm as a genuine title threat.
It is in stark contrast to the Sea Eagles, who have endured a nightmare 2018 on and off the field. If it wasn't for Parramatta, the pride of Sydney's northern peninsula would have collected their maiden wooden spoon this season.
You get the feeling their supporters in maroon and white are already focused on 2019 and beyond.
Match: Broncos v Sea Eagles
Round 25 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Darius Boyd v Tom Trbojevic. The Brisbane number one turned back the clock with a scintillating 80-minute performance last start at Allianz Stadium versus the Roosters. Opposing fullback Trbojevic has been a shining light for Manly in what has been a dismal campaign, taking his game to another level after making his State of Origin debut for NSW in June. This duel won't disappoint; it will be a beauty.
For the Broncos to win: Feed their monster forward pack. The likes of Tevita Pangai jnr, David Fifita and Patrick Mago are performing like seasoned veterans, inspiring experienced trio Sam Thaiday, Alex Glenn and Korbin Sims as well as enforcer Josh McGuire. They easily out-muscled the Roosters last start and they will expect to get the better of the Sea Eagles' forwards, who are only playing for pride.
For the Sea Eagles to win: Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans will have to play out of his skin. The skipper, linked with a potential shock off-season move to Red Hill in recent weeks, has the ability to take games by the scruff of the neck - but he needs support. If Martin Taupau, Jake Trbojevic and the departing Shaun Lane all fire, Trent Barrett's men could orchestrate a major upset on the road.
Broncos Stat Attack: Winger Jamayne Isaako is poised to finish as the competition's top point-scorer in 2018. The winger has 213 points to his name after 24 rounds, with Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell (204) the next best. Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford has the most kick metres in the NRL (8147) and is the reason why his team are the yardstick when it comes to total kick metres (12,397).
Sea Eagles Stat Attack: Prop Martin Taupau (68) has the most offloads, narrowly in front of Sharks front-rower Andrew Fifita (66). Fullback Tom Trbojevic is fourth (111) on the tackle break standings. His brother Jake Trbojevic has made 929 tackles.
And another thing: Manly humbled Brisbane 38-24 on their 'home' turf back in May as part of a double-header in round 10. Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium will also be Trent Barrett's final game as head coach after three incident-filled years in the hot seat. His replacement is still to be named, with assistant coach John Cartwright the likely option.
Brisbane Broncos v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Sunday 4.10pm at Suncorp Stadium
Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Darius BoydFullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom Trbojevic
Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey OatesWinger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Matthew Wright
Centre for Broncos is number 3 James RobertsCentre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Moses Suli
Centre for Broncos is number 4 Jordan KahuCentre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Brian Kelly
Winger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne IsaakoWinger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Brad Parker
Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Anthony MilfordFive-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Dylan Walker
Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Kodi NikorimaHalfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Broncos is number 8 Matthew LodgeProp for Sea Eagles is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Broncos is number 13 Josh McGuireHooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Manase Fainu
Prop for Broncos is number 10 Sam ThaidayProp for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
2nd Row for Broncos is number 17 David Fifita2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Joel Thompson
2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Shaun Lane
Lock for Broncos is number 15 Joe OfahengaueLock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange for Broncos is number 9 Jake TurpinInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Trent Hodkinson
Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Patrick MagoInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Kelepi Tanginoa
Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Korbin SimsInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Jack Gosiewski
Interchange for Broncos is number 20 Kotoni StaggsInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Taniela Paseka
Broncos: The Broncos have made a series of late changes. Alex Glenn is out, with David Fifita to start in the back row. Josh McGuire will start the match at hooker, with Jake Turpin dropping back to the bench and Joe Ofahengaue to start at lock. After Jack Bird and Todd Murphy were cut 24 hours prior to kick-off, Glenn and Sam Tagataese were omitted an hour before game time.
Sea Eagles: Manly will start their final match 1-17, with Frank Winterstein and Tevita Funa the two players left out an hour before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 44; Sea Eagles 22 wins, Broncos 21 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Sea Eagles won 38-24 at Suncorp Stadium (Manly home game) in round 10
Points per game: Broncos 22.1; Sea Eagles 21
Points conceded per game: Broncos 21; Sea Eagles 25
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: While the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Dragons have hit hurdles in recent weeks the Broncos have gone the other way and look very ominous. They will be keen to capitalise on what they've done the last two weeks and go into the finals on a high. It has been a horror year for Manly and their coach Trent Barrett and it'll tough for them to get up for this one.
Tip: Broncos by 10